University of New Mexico Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs James Holloway has named Jennifer Malat as the next dean of the College of Arts & Sciences effective Aug. 21, 2023.
“I am excited to bring Dr. Malat to UNM as our next dean of College of Arts & Sciences,” Holloway said. “During the pandemic she has demonstrated calm and thoughtful leadership through some very difficult times, while still successfully advancing her college and her university. As we undertake strategic planning at the college level under the UNM 2040 framework, I’m eager to work with Jennifer to advance Arts & Sciences at UNM.”
Malat looks forward to her new role at UNM and the opportunity to work with a diverse group of faculty, staff, students and the people of New Mexico.
"I am honored to join the faculty, staff, and students at the University of New Mexico, because it is among the few Hispanic-Serving institutions recognized for having the highest level of research activity as well as the Carnegie Community Engagement Classification,” said Malat. “The College of Arts and Sciences is central to the University’s mission and integral to these successes. With outstanding scholars in a broad range of disciplines, the College of Arts and Sciences plays a leading role in addressing crucial questions facing New Mexico and the world through research, scholarship and education of the next generation of leaders.
“Drawing on our strengths, the College will continue to model excellence in research, teaching, and community service that responds to our times and advances society. I admire the University’s commitment to its public mission, particularly to serving the state of New Mexico with extraordinary research, education, and collaboration in critical areas. I look forward to working closely with the faculty, staff, and students in the College of Arts and Sciences to determine how we will continue to make meaningful contributions to society into the future.”
Malat currently serves as associate vice president for Development at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), an R1 Minority Serving Institution similar to UNM. In this position she works with senior leaders and key staff to develop a framework to ensure the university’s commitment to equity and inclusion as part of its next comprehensive campaign. Other development activities include the expansion of and increased scholarship support for a diverse student population through the creation and implementation of a comprehensive program to educate and engage deans, academic leaders, and directors of development about strategies for robust donor engagement and case statements.
Prior to her development position, Malat served as the dean in the College of Humanities & Sciences (2020-2022) at VCU where she successfully guided the college through the first two years of the pandemic and prioritized improved equity for students, faculty and staff. During that time, she also worked with colleagues to implement new procedures for inclusive hiring practices resulting in a racially diverse cohort of new faculty in the Fall of 2022. Along with retention, the effort resulted in a 14 percent growth in faculty of color in two years.
Malat was instrumental in faculty-led initiatives to increase inclusive and engaged teaching with two programs that included nearly every unit. The first, Leaders for Inclusive Learning, provided structured learning and empowerment for change among a cohort of faculty. A second program, the Innovations in Teaching and Student Engagement Award, was created and designed to fund projects such as Summer Camp in Philosophy for high school students.
She also initiated at VCU a multi-faceted student recruitment and retention plan that included redefining the role of the associate dean for undergraduate programs, hiring a new associate dean, hiring a recruitment coordinator, and strategically allocating financial resources. The results included exceptional student engagement and strategic recruitment including 16 percent growth in incoming out-of-state students, and retention of first-year first-generation students (81 percent) that exceeded pre-pandemic levels.
Malat began her career at the University of Cincinnati (UC) in 2000 as an assistant professor of Sociology. She was promoted to associate professor in 2006 and to professor in 2014. In 2016 she was selected as associate dean for Social Sciences (2016-2019) and later served as the inaugural divisional dean for social sciences in the College of Arts and Sciences (2019-2020).
At UC, she co-founded and directed a community-engagement initiative called The Cincinnati Project, which promotes equity through community-partnered research through class projects, faculty research, and interdisciplinary work. In the four years Malat directed the Project, more than 400 faculty and students participated in community-partnered research through The Cincinnati Project. Malat also served as director of UC’s Kunz Center for Social Research before joining the dean’s office.
Malat’s academic research focuses on racial inequity in health and has received federal funding and repeatedly appeared in top journals. Her teaching has primarily focused on race and racism in the United States. “My academic practice has involved the critical examination of how social structures create and maintain inequality from multiple vantage points,” said Malat. “Knowing that change is most likely to be sustained when it is institutionalized, I work to implement policies that promote diversity and inclusion.”
Malat earned a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology from the University of Minnesota and a Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Michigan.